New Orleans — Mayor Landrieu, joined by The Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) President Michael Berkowitz, New Orleans Chief Resilience Officer Jeff Hebert, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator (NOAA) Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, unveiled Resilient New Orleans — a concrete, strategic roadmap for the City of New Orleans to build urban resilience. The strategy, a joint effort between the city and 100RC — pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation — proposes 41 actions to build citywide resilience. The strategy will help New Orleans become a more equitable, adaptable and prosperous place for all of its residents as the city approaches its tri-centennial in 2018.
Resilient New Orleans includes such items as the establishment of personal emergency savings accounts, the development of a comprehensive stormwater management program, and establishing one of the world’s few resilience centers, located in New Orleans.
The strategy comes with over $1 million in commitments for implementation from 100RC Platform Partners, in both the public and private sectors, as well as additional commitments from other local and national philanthropic organizations. As the city moves towards implementation, they will also have continuing access to a $100 million pool of tools and services from the 100RC network and platform partners.
“Being resilient means more than having levees and wetlands to hold back water,” said Mayor Landrieu. “To be a truly resilient society means also combating the longstanding, generational challenges around crime, education and income inequality. It means replacing hatred with empathy, disassociation with harmony, and striking a balance between human needs and the environment that surrounds us. Now, the opportunity is to position New Orleans as a global leader on resilience. The people of New Orleans are a profile in resilience, but more must be done to adapt to new and forthcoming challenges facing our environment and opportunity gaps that persist in our city. We don’t want a New Orleans in which people live a block away but are a mile apart in terms of economic opportunity, and our vision with this strategy is to ensure that as we continue rebuilding our city, no one gets left behind.”
Resilient New Orleans lays out dozens of actionable steps in response to these challenges, focused on several key, tangible pillars, including:
• Launching an emergency account program, using the model of the Individual Development Account, a savings-matching program for low- and moderate-income earners to set aside funds for emergency uses. The city will work with the Foundation for Louisiana on this brand-new initiative.
• Implementing comprehensive stormwater management through a partnership between the city, as well as national and international experts, including Greater New Orleans, Inc., Greater New Orleans Foundation, Trust for Public Land, and Dutch water management firm, Deltares. This effort will complement the traditional, or “gray,” drainage system of pipes and pumps with green infrastructure that delays and detains storm water in landscaped spaces.
• Establishing one of the world’s few Resilience Centers in New Orleans, a storefront to be centrally located in the city, and serve as a hub for resilience innovation and leadership development. Partners on this initiative include The Rockefeller Foundation, Tulane University, Greater New Orleans, Inc., and the American Institute of Architects.
• Leading by example through a new partnership with a homegrown company, PosiGen. PosiGen Solar Solutions and their partners will install a photovoltaic cell array and battery backup modules on the New Orleans City Hall complex to reduce strain on the electric grid, and provide redundancy in the face of shocks and outages to critical city systems.
• Developing a small business resilience initiative to bring technical assistance to small businesses in order to assess their preparedness, identify improvements, and enhance economic stability. Partners include the Walmart Foundation and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
• Implementing a resilient infrastructure recovery and risk transfer initiative to deploy private-market assets to improve or repair critical systems after a disruptive event. Partners for this initiative include Swiss Re and Veolia.
• Establishing a resilience-retrofitting program that incentivizes property owners to invest in risk reduction through a tested financial tool, the Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) initiative. Deutsche Bank is a partner on this initiative.
Resilient New Orleans was developed in partnership with over 110 local community leaders and stakeholders, including representatives from the Foundation for Louisiana, Greater New Orleans Foundation, Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, Neighborhoods Partnership Network, Institute for Women and Ethnic Studies and Broad Community Connections. The strategy is also a key component of New Orleans’ membership in 100RC, which played a leading role managing the community stakeholder process, and providing expertise to local community leaders and organizations.
100RC currently works with a network of 67 cities around the world to prepare for and bounce back from physical, social and economic challenges that increasingly impact our rapidly urbanizing world. In addition to funding the Chief Resilience Officer position, 100RC provides cities like New Orleans with partnerships in the private, public, academic, and non-profit sectors to implement ideas from resilience strategies, like Resilient New Orleans.
Resilience represents a city's ability to engage its communities in response to social, economic or physical challenges, so that it can survive, adapt and grow no matter what kind of issues it may face. Resilience is best demonstrated through the people of New Orleans, who chose to return and rebuild the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — so that it not only recovers, but becomes resilient to all future challenges.
The full Resilient New Orleans strategy is available at http://resilientnola.org.
“Our work with the City of New Orleans over the last decade has not only shaped the future of this city, it has also influenced how the foundation works all over the world,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “New Orleans was the inspiration behind 100 Resilient Cities, and it was the impetus for our hallmark innovation: the Chief Resilience Officer. The importance of having a central point of contact for resilience building cannot be understated. Jeff Hebert was the natural choice for this role here in New Orleans, and he’s doing an extraordinary job.”
“Resilient New Orleans represents a pivotal step down the city’s path to becoming a resilient city, not the destination,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100RC, whose organization worked directly with the city to develop the strategy. “By building the capacity of individuals, institutions, and systems to quickly recover and adapt, New Orleans is poised to become a model of urban resilience, and a great city partner of 100 Resilient Cities.”
“Resilient New Orleans is squarely focused on addressing the challenges of the future today and preparing our community to adapt to address those challenges,” said Jeff Hebert, New Orleans Chief Resilience Officer. “As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we are pivoting from recovery to resilience to provide a better future for the next generation. Because the challenges we have faced over the past three centuries are different from what we’ll face in the future, we need to be prepared to stand up to these challenges in order to thrive in the centuries to come.”
Recovery efforts in the years following Hurricane Katrina, and The Rockefeller Foundation’s leadership in spearheading the Unified New Orleans Recovery Plan (UNOP), helped inspire the global 100RC Challenge, launched in 2013. With a focus on flood protection, affordable housing, public services, and state-of-the-art education and health care systems in New Orleans, UNOP was a single, cohesive plan that enabled the city to access federal recovery funding and focus on long-term resilience-building activities. Its success became a model for The Rockefeller Foundation’s global resilience efforts and illuminated New Orleans as a living laboratory for resilience thinking and planning.